Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified. (Matthew 27:27-31)
One Man Against Six Hundred
Daniel described the Roman Empire as a nation of iron in his message to Nebuchadnezzar. The image seen by the Babylonian king represented four kingdoms that would rule the world but none of the four nations would be as powerful as the fourth kingdom of iron. When the Roman Empire spread its wings throughout the world no power could stand in its way. No kingdom of man has been so vast controlling such a large area of land as the Romans. They were a fierce and brutal army. Soldiers of the Romans were highly trained, disciplined and without mercy. It was this army the Jews delivered Jesus of Nazareth to be crucified.
The mock trials of the Jews and Romans had been completed. God’s people railed against His Son for Him to be crucified. Pilate’s feeble plea was ignored. Bowing to the will of the people, the spineless ruler sent Jesus to the scourging pole to be beaten severely in one of the most inhumane acts of cruelty. The Romans soldiers were not finished with their victim. They took the man from Nazareth into their barracks and gathered the whole garrison around Him. The number varied from 400 – 600 men. Elite soldiers of the governor stood against one man. In the middle of the dimly lit room filled with smoke and sweat, one man stood silent before His tormentors.
Jesus had survived the brutal scourging. His back was inflamed with ribbons of flesh clotting against his clothing. As the soldiers laughed and mocked Him, they tore off his clothes and put a scarlet robe on Him. Wincing with unyielding pain, Jesus stood quietly as they pierced His head with a crown of thorns. His right hand barely could hold the reed they forced on Him. Six hundred men were having sport with a destitute, broken man. Laughter filled the room as vile men did their best to humiliate their victim. Bowing their knee before Jesus, the garrison mocked the supposed King of the Jews. Their treatment of Jesus was more severe because He claimed to be a king. They filled their mouths with mucus and spit on Jesus covering His face with their phlegm. Taking the reed from His hand they struck the Lord repeatedly on the head driving the thorns deeper. Searing pain wracked His body as Jesus of Nazareth endured the mocking of six hundred men.
Six hundred powerful soldiers of the governor, who treated their victim without mercy, surrounded Jesus Christ. He said nothing. He did nothing. The mockery, the pain, the weakness and the torture was more than any man could bear. In the midst of six hundred men – stood the Son of God. He had created the world. He had created the men who treated Him so vile. By the Finger of God, Jesus of Nazareth healed every disease, raised the dead, cast out demons and walked on water. When He stood in the midst of six hundred Roman soldiers, there would be no healing, no power and no miracle. In quiet submission, the Son of God bowed to the Father’s will. The worst was yet to come. When the soldiers tired of their sport, they took the Son of God to Golgotha and nailed Him to a cross. It was there He finally spoke. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Six hundred men went back to their work as Roman soldiers. Each man would die in time to come. The memory of that day with a man called Jesus would fade from their minds dimmed by so many others they treated so cruel. It was in death six hundred men would find the truth of that day. The eternal torment that fills their minds is the day they stood before their Judge and treated Him with the contempt of ungodly men. They now know that Jesus is the Son of God. It is in His presence they stand. He is alive. He is all-powerful. He was their Savior but they treated Him with contempt. And yes – He really is a King. Jesus of Nazareth is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Poor was his station, laborious his life, bitter his ending; through poverty, through labor, through crucifixion his majesty of nature more shines. (Gerard Manley Hopkins, Notebooks and Papers of, 1937)